KPMG Release CEO Survey ‘Disrupt & Grow’

July 11, 2017

KPMG in Bermuda today announced the release of the global firm’s 2017 Global CEO Outlook, based on in-depth interviews with nearly 1,300 CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies.

This year’s CEO Outlook reveals that 65 percent of CEOs see disruptive forces as an opportunity, not a threat, for their business. CEOs are still broadly confident about the prospects for the global economy, but their optimism is more modest than it was last year.

“Disruption has become a fact of life for CEOs and their businesses as they respond to heightened uncertainty,” says Neil Patterson, Chairman of KPMG in Bermuda.

“But importantly, most see disruption as an opportunity to transform their business model, develop new products and services, and reshape their business so it is more successful than ever before. In the face of new challenges and uncertainties, CEOs are feeling urgency to ‘disrupt and grow’.”

Neil Patterson continued, “What is also interesting about this survey is the shift in CEOs focus towards reputational risk and public trust, which have moved up to number 3 on the CEO agenda. The impact of political change and uncertainty coupled with the transparency and speed of the digital world is making CEOs think carefully about how they are perceived by their employees, customers and other stakeholders”.

Disruptor as an opportunity

  • In 2017, CEOs are still broadly confident about the prospects for the global economy [65 percent], but their optimism is more modest than it was last year [when it was 80 percent].
  • More than six in ten CEOs see disruption as an opportunity, not a threat, for their business and three in four [74 percent] say their business is aiming to be the disruptor in its sector.
  • Within their own businesses, more than eight in ten CEOs [83 percent] describe themselves as confident in their company’s growth prospects for the next 3 years, with around half saying they are very confident.

The new uncertainty

  • In the space of a year the world has become a more complicated place; economically, politically and technologically.
  • Three out of four CEO’s are ramping up their scenario planning and 69% say they are hiring specialist resources into their senior ranks to better understand geopolitical risk.
  • Almost seven in ten [68 percent] say they are focused on developing their skills and personal qualities to better lead their business.

Reputational risk climbs the agenda

Reputational and brand risk have climbed to be the third most important risk [out of 16 in total], after having not featuring in the top 10 in 2016. CEOs also see reputation and brand risk as having the second biggest potential impact on growth over the next 3 years.

A focus on trust

In light of operating within an increasingly transparent business environment, three quarters of CEOs [74 percent] say their organization is placing greater importance on trust, values and culture in order to sustain its long-term future.

More than seven in 10 [72 percent] correlate being a more empathetic organization with higher earnings. Companies today are increasingly realizing that building trust is consistent with their business objectives.

The battle for talent in the cognitive revolution

Cyber security, which CEOs ranked at the top risk in 2016, has this year fallen to position 5 [of 16], in part, reflecting CEO views on the progress their business has made in cyber risk management. Today, four in 10 [42 percent] say they feel adequately prepared for a cyber event – up from 25 percent in 2016.

Contrary to popular view, on average, most percent of CEOs actually expect cognitive technologies to increase headcount across 10 key types of roles in the immediate future. While 32 percent expect this growth to be slight, there is still a clear expectation that more specialist employees will be needed, at least in the short term.

While CEOs are focusing on evolving their businesses, they are also evolving their own role – 70 percent of CEOs say they are now more open to new influences and collaborations than at any other point in their career.

The full 2017 KPMG Global CEO Outlook is below [PDF here]

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